A Stony Plain couple, who is also Tragically Hip fans, is aiming to raise awareness and money for brain cancer research.
Eric Frey’s father was diagnosed with brain cancer eight years ago, underwent two surgeries and chemotherapy, and succumbed to the disease a year later.
“We had time to say everything we needed to say. There wasn’t really anything that was left unsaid,” Frey said. “It definitely takes a toll on the families as things progress.”
Frey’s wife, Genevieve Olivier, organized a silent auction Saturday afternoon to raise money for the Sunnybrook Foundation and the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research.
Gord Downie, the Tragically Hip singer, announced his battle with terminal brain cancer in May just before the band started their final tour.
“When Gord announced he was sick in May, a large group on Facebook… everyone was really upset and sad,” Olivier said. “Everyone came together and said, ‘Let’s try to do as many of these before as many shows as we can’.”
There are similar fundraisers taking place across the country in cities where the band is playing, such as Toronto, Calgary and Hamilton.
Olivier, who calls Downie ‘Canada’s poet’, said the Tragically Hip’s music resonates deeply with Canadians.
“People grew up going camping, putting the Hip on. Going on a road trip, putting the Hip on. It’s been a part of our culture for so long,” she said.
“When you hear that [Downie is sick], it feels like someone from your family is sick.”
Local businesses donated vinyl records, t-shirts, gift cards and other prizes for the silent auction. Olivier hopes to raise $5,000.
“It’s a close connection for us. Brain cancer is often overlooked. I’m hoping this raises awareness,” Olivier said.
“You don’t have to sit on the sidelines. You can get involved and you can do something,” Frey said.
Frey said Downie has brought a spotlight to the condition and is showing bravery in the face of cancer by doing this tour. He, his wife and their daughter are attending Saturday night’s concert. It was important for he and his family to see the band live.
“It’s very courageous. It’s huge…to share that raw of a story of something you’re going through,” Frey said. “I think that’s one of the most inspiring things.”